» Monday, February 13, 2006

Prime Minister’s Plane

Asked what had happened to the Prime Minister’s plane that had broken down last night in South Africa, and why could he not be back in Britain today, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists that at about 11pm South African time, the Prime Minister’s delegation were due to take off. The plane has started the run down the runway, but they had not gone very far when one of the pilots noticed that there was something wrong with Engine 3 (it was a 3 engine plane). They then shut down the engine, aborted the take off, went back to the Terminal, and as it was 11pm local time, there were no more planes available. They were not able to arrange an alternative to get the Prime Minister back in time for the ID Cards vote today, but he would travel back overnight tonight.

Asked if the Prime Minister would come back on the same plane, the PMOS said that he would not.

Asked what airline the Prime Minister was travelling with, the PMOS said that it was a private charter, but he would not get into the details of who.

Asked if the plane had left the ground when the engine failed, the PMOS said it had not.

Put that they were about to take off, the PMOS said that in terms of take-off speed, they were well short of the point of take-off. The technical jargon was that it was a "minor incident", but whether it felt like a minor incident at the time was another thing entirely!

Asked what sort of plane it was, the PMOS said he did not know.

Asked who was on the plane, the PMOS said the Prime Minister and his officials.

Put that there were reports of sparks coming from the plane, the PMOS replied that that was what happened when an engine did not work.
Asked why they did not go onto Johannesburg and get a flight back from there, the PMOS replied that as he understood it, there were no scheduled flights to London during the day.

Asked if Peter Mandelson was on the flight, the PMOS replied that he was not aware that he was.

Asked if Alan Johnson and Alan Milburn were on the plane, the PMOS said he did not think that they were with the Prime Minister’s travelling party.

Asked who was picking up the bill for the alternative travel arrangements, the PMOS replied that it was a matter for discussion.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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